Veterans would benefit from a similar performance for VA funding as what Hank Paulson pulled off in 2008 to fund U.S. and international banking. I created this video comparison for veterans to review.
Last Wednesday, it surfaced that Secretary Shinseki has not met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to discuss the Senate’s failure let VA funding be debated on the floor.
On Monday, I took a quick social media survey of veterans. 99% of veterans said the Secretary should do more. Specifically, he should talk with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about VA’s lack of funding to pay veterans benefits.
During the hearing, Shinseki was asked if he has spoken with Senate leadership (Harry Reid) about funding VA. He danced around the answer for a minute, highlighting that “Congress” needs to do something. Eventually, he concluded by saying he has not spoken with Senator Reid.
Shinseki’s initial statement is a red herring since a casual viewer would conclude that Congress has done nothing. Meanwhile, the House side of Congress has done something. The House has passed two bills that fund VA. It is the Senate side of Congress that refuses to even debate VA funding. This lack of action allows veterans to be used as a political football.
In response, House Republicans held Shinseki’s feet to the fire by pointing out that the House had in fact passed numerous bills that would fund VA fully through 2014.
Over four months earlier, the House has unanimously voted to support such legislation. However, Senator Reid has refused to bring the bill to the floor for debate.
Procedurally, the Senate Leader sets the calendar for what the Senate will deliberate over. Here, Senator Reid has refused to let the VA funding bill see the light of day.
After the hearing, I decided to research whether or not it was appropriate for a Cabinet Level Agency Head to address Congress directly.
I did not have to look any further than 2008. That is when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson lobbied both the House and Senate to pass TARP to bail out banks.
Some of you may remember that Paulson marched across Capitol Hill to gain support from the House and the Senate to give him a blank check. He called the blank check a “bazooka” that he was going to use to calm the nerves of investors.
Since we did it for banks, I’m unclear as to why Shinseki will not rise to the occasion to broker a deal for veterans in the same manner as Paulson.
If Paulson got a blank check for banks, can’t Shinseki get veterans a specific check amount – an amount that does not cost over $700 billion dollars?
Video from the House Committee of Veterans Affairs & the documentary “Hank”.